Being stuck below ground is our worst nightmare, but imagine if you were forced to look the devil in the eye every morning as you headed into the subterranean world. Intrepid traveller Jacqueline Donaldson discovered what it was like for the underground workers of Bolivia…
“If God is in the sky then the devil must be in the ground” was what a Potosi miner told me when I was surprised by an effigy of the devil on entering the dark entrance to a mine in the intriguing city of Potosi. As I watched, miners filed past giving small offerings to the devil to keep them safe for the working day.
We recently asked Intrepid Express readers to tell us about their best travelling coincidences and apart from hearing some great ‘six degrees of separation’ tales, stories like Sharon Slater’s proved beyond doubt that it’s a very small world…
“Last year I travelled across Northern Africa from Cairo to Marrakesh on a small group tour. In fact there were less than 10 of us left by the time we reached Morocco. None of us had known each other before the tour, except for an Aussie couple on their way to work in the UK.
After six weeks of wonderful and exotic experiences we all said good-bye at Marrakesh and headed our separate ways; most of us bound for further travels but different destinations.
The closest Khmer word for ‘strength’ is clang and according to Intrepid’s Jo Crisp, this is certainly something that is not weakened by wild weather in Cambodia…
“Siem Reap, home of World Heritage Angkor Wat, was the Venice of Asia in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana that rocked the Philippines and Vietnam. Storms hit Cambodia causing torrential downpours and flooding in many parts of the country.
On Tuesday night, 29 September, water was about a metre from my front door when I went to bed. By 4am the water started lapping at my fingers as I slept. I awoke to find water was over a metre deep throughout my house and small fish were calling my bedroom home! So after grabbing essential items and raising everything up on shelves and cupboards I waded out to the street to join the hordes of people who were also flooded out of their houses.
Bruce McPhie has just commenced his 197th trip as an Intrepid group leader. His experience is remarkable, his care of his travellers is second to none, and his compassion and respect for the people of Indochina is immediately obvious. Bruce’s recent return to Cambodia prompted this frank and thought-provoking blog…
“Cambodia is a fascinating country to visit, with a long and turbulent history, friendly people, and delicious food. It has a striking natural beauty, with the mighty Mekong River, the unique Tonle Sap Lake, and a landscape of sugar palms, white cattle and green rice fields among rural villages where time seems to have stood still. Against this stunning backdrop are the encouraging signs of progress and development out of poverty that is most evident in the major cities.
Extraordinary travel experiences in Vietnam don’t cost a fortune, but as one-time Intrepid leader Trish Shaw discovered, getting to know the people is worth its weight in gold…
“If a picture can tell a thousand words, then this is a face that can tell many thousands of stories, and fortunes. Hidden away in a small farming community, just outside of the former imperial capital of Hue in central Vietnam, lives a lady who was once a laundry worker for the American soldiers stationed in the area during the war.
Kenya Teaching and Building trips focus on helping communities that lack government funding, but how do you get to these villages? Intrepid’s Samantha Finn takes us on a unique ride in Kenya that leads to a remarkable real life experience…
“Let me take you on a typical Kenyan journey in a matatu, an erratic ride on a Nissan minibus out of Nairobi. Something like a rollercoaster safari amongst the smells, chaos and exciting random nature of Kenyan public transport.
We begin our journey with a friendly, yet persistent, face through the window of the bus, proffering a bewildering mix of strawberry biscuits, hot sausages and lurid plastic jewellery. Having purchased some of these questionably essential travel items, you tune your senses to the upbeat melody of Kikuyu radio or marvel at the tightly-braided heads moving eagerly as mamas chat to their closely-sat neighbour. This is all enveloped in the unfamiliar and exotic aromas of hair oil mixed with dust, that is surprisingly more enticing than unpleasant!
When a young man from Ghana announced his goal to ski in the Olympics, you could imagine the responses. But he’s done it! Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong has just qualified and will be Ghana’s one-man ski team in Vancouver next year. A great good news story to come out of Ghana, and here’s another from Intrepid’s Erin Farmer..
“It’s 6 am and I’m sitting on the veranda watching the mist roll through the mango orchard and listening to the echoes of the school choir practising their hymns. As I sip my coffee and coax my eyes to open fully, I think of the day ahead.
What is it about a volunteering adventure that makes the experience so special? John Holland has travelled the world and spent six weeks backpacking around South America after joining Peru Teaching & Building, so it was easy for him to pinpoint why this trip was a personal highlight…
“Forget the work, it’s the people that make an Intrepid Volunteering project brilliant. First are the local villagers: friendly, hospitable and they love any excuse for a party. Second is our own group of volunteers, a knock-about group of Poms, Aussies and Irish who shared everything for a period of up to six weeks with no major whines, issues or arguments.
Together with eight others I signed up through Intrepid, who works with local partners to organise community projects around the world. Sometimes they build schools and teach. Other projects, such as the one I am doing, involve providing a safe water supply for the village of Peccacacho, high up in Peru’s Andes mountains – an hour walk from the small town of Chinchero and an hour drive from Cuzco, the former Inca capital and well-known jumping off point for Machu Picchu.
Nepal is one of those extraordinary places where the verve of being there encourages your soul to sing. Express reader Bradley Stulberg spent a month trekking in the Himalayas and now shares the experience with you, just as prayer flags shared the energy of others with him…
“The sound of prayer flags flapping in the wind is one that I will never forget. Nearly all the high points, both literally and figuratively, of my recent Himalayan adventure were marked and connected by the thudding vibrations of these multi-coloured pennants.